What with one
thing and another, we missed the 9:25 a.m. bus Zacatecas - Leon -
Guanajuato, so we reached this fine city later than we normally
like to arrive in a new place.
It was cold and
dark outside, and for not doing much this day, somehow we were both
exhausted and hungry.
buses make traveling in Mexico easy.
We shared a cab
with Christina and Josh - newlyweds whom we met on the bus - to
El Hostelito, which was no longer El Hostilito anymore
but another hostel instead. Upon arriving, we found that there was
only one room available, a 4 bed dorm room for 100 Pesos per bed. As
you can imagine the honeymooners chose to lodge at another place and
we took the
with a balcony and view.
went to the kitchen and began banging around, preparing dinner when
the older woman who owns the lodging came up to me and politely asked if
there was anything that I
needed. I said to her in my best Spanish, "No
thanks, I have everything but if you could tell me where the trash
is…" After graciously showing me the trash tin in the
corner she then says "This is our personal
kitchen and not for public use."
I stop mid-action
with my eyes wide open in embarrassment and surprise and begin
apologizing profusely. I had not expected this turn of events in the
The view just
outside our hostel. Beautiful, colorful buildings on clean,
Sweet woman that
she was, Senora Vidal made a point of telling us that because we
were older, more responsible and clean - not like the younger kids
who stay here - we could use her kitchen. After eating, I made sure the kitchen was
The next morning
Senora Vidal lets me know that she has straightened up her kitchen so
that we will now have plenty of room to cook! How thoughtful was
that? When we went out for the day I purchased a half-kilo of
fresh berries and gave them to her and her son as a gift. Her son
runs the internet cafe downstairs.
Nothing like an
awkward moment to make fast friends!
strawberries in kilo bags for 20 Pesos each bag.
founded as a town in 1554 and received the designation as a city in
1741. It is located in one of the richest silver mining areas of
Mexico, and is well known for its wealth of fine colonial-era
The historic town and adjacent mines are a designated World Heritage Site.
One of the most
notable features in the city of Guanajuato are her tunnels. The
steps in this photo lead down to a completely different world
underground where cars and busses zoom through and pedestrians walk freely
and uncluttered by traffic on the
This map gives
you an idea of the city with parking, Estacionamiento, marked
clearly with the capital 'E.' Our hostel is in the Centro Historico
area. The tan lines on this map show the tunnel system. Being a
newcomer, when you're traveling underground you have no idea where you
will come up.
was originally built over the Guanajuato River,
which flowed through tunnels underneath the city itself. However, after
years of raising buildings to accommodate repeated flooding, in the
mid-twentieth century, engineers built a dam and redirected the
river into underground caverns. The tunnels were lit and paved with
cobblestones for automobile traffic, and this underground road
network carries the majority of cars driving through the city today.
Hop a bus and
whiz through these narrow, winding tunnels for 4 Pesos a person. You'll see that cars,
motorcycles and pedestrians are all utilizing these cobblestoned
passageways. They are organized similar to the subways in NYC.
The ones fully
underground are eerily lit and give off a gothic glow.
Guanajuato is riveting. Houses built on the sides of the hill hang
over these bridges and archways and sometimes there are hanging
plants and colorful flowers that give an artistic touch.
Streets twist and
curve into alleys, bend apart into stairways, bisect each other at
obtuse angles, disappear and reappear in optical illusions and open
to secret plazitas with water fountains
and no people. Guanajuato is one of the most photogenic places not
only in Mexico but in the world.
clean, buildings are colorful and well-maintained. Wrought iron work
Guanajuato is a
wonderful city to explore on foot, and there's never a dull moment. The narrow, winding streets are
lined with old colonial structures, wrought iron balconies, and romantic nooks and crannies that can only
be fully appreciated by close inspection.
And if you like
stonework... you will love Guanajuato.
through the highlands of Mexico is a must adventure for any traveler. From the
famous silver mining city of Zacatecas to the most Mexican town in Mexico,
Jerez, and finally the World Heritage and enchanting, University city of
Guanajuato. All of these places were unique and unquestionably worth a visit.
For more information and practical tips for planning this
journey for yourself, we offer The Adventurer's Guide
to Mexican Highlands
Behind us in this
photo is the famous Callejon de Beso, a narrow alleyway named for
the legend of ill-fated lovers who shared kisses from their
respective balconies. Sort of a Mexican Romeo and Juliet.
To the left in
this photo is the road to the Museo de Los Momias (Mummy Museum),
another well known tourist attraction.
You also see
another entranceway on the left to the tunnels below, and a bus stop
in the center.
Museo de Los
Momias is an odd attraction in Guanajuato, one worth taking
the time to visit. For 50 Pesos a person you can enter the
Museo and see the 111 bodies of mummified men, women and
children exhumed between 1865 and 1989, that make up the
collection. In the late 1800s the town instituted a 'burial tax'
for the families of the deceased. When some of the poorest
families were unable to pay the tax, their relatives were dug up,
and it was discovered that they were mummified. Due to this
unexpected event, the bodies were then placed on public view in a purpose-built museum.
through the darkened rooms viewing the preserved remains of everyday people
from decades ago is something you will never forget.
The most gruesome
display in the museum is a separate area where you'll see the torture memorabilia
telling ghastly stories of how some of the natives were 'converted'
to Christianity or sent to their Pagan gods - or so the story goes.
We've never seen
anything like this before and it was chilling. Understanding that
these remains were of real humans and not a Halloween display just
cut to the heart. It left us with many questions and few answers.
Back outside in
the light of day we
see that brightly colored,
cheery walking streets perfect for pedestrian enjoyment are
everywhere. Mexicans are not afraid to use color and these images
are captivating. Notice again, not a lick of trash anywhere.
over town are
colorful in the distinctive style of Mexico.
The University of
Guanajuato is one of the oldest in the western hemisphere. It has a
rocky history due to the expelling of the Jesuits, the Mexican War
of Independence from Spain, and financially lean times. These days
it is thriving.
Built of white
stone it shows Colonial architecture and Moorish influence. A solid
presence. However, the architectural style is still a controversial
and green-filled areas for public sitting and people-watching are
delightful to uncover in this beautiful and fine city of Guanajuato.
and artistic expression characterizes a charming entranceway to this
Tiny nooks and
crannies, little secret hideaways, well preserved stonework and tile
present photo opportunities on every walk.
doors and windows, old fashioned street lights and topiary plants.
Everywhere you look begs to be photographed!
We spent 15 Pesos
per person each way to go up the Funicular Panoramico to see
the monument to El Pipila - the martyr who set fire to the
grain-holding building that the Spaniards were occupying during the
What a view of the
city from this monument location!
played a major role in the
Mexican War of Independence since it is the capital of the state of
Guanajuato in which Miguel Hidalgo started the independence
In the center of
the photo you see the yellow Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora, and to
the left of that is the University of Guanajuato. I don't know the
name of the maroon domed church to the right.
Pipila is a revered
revolution martyr who tied a stone slab on his back protecting him
from Spanish bullets and crawled to the grain-holding building they
were occupying during the Mexican Revolution. He set fire to the
gates and while the Spaniards choked on smoke, the rebels moved in
to take this military stronghold.
To get an idea of
the size of this monument, see the
people in the red shirts at the foot of the statue?
Here's a closer
living out a dream and checking to see if the camera is a good fit
around at the top of this Mexican Revolution Monument, we came upon
a camera crew for Mexico City TV channel 22 who were doing a
documentary. Mexico celebrates 200 years of Independence from Spain
During the reign
of Porfirio Diaz (1876-1911), peasants were cheated out of their
land by new laws. From the 1920's through the 1960's, 400,000 square
kilometers of land from large estates were redistributed to peasants
At the top of the
monument hill, we saw some
vendors making blue corn tortillas with your choice of filling. Here
you see calbasa flowers with chiles and queso.
Another tortilla offers frijoles and queso, and
another, pierna, frijoles and queso. Fifteen Pesos
Plaza de la Paz
and the Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato.
outdoor cafes, dazzling skies.
What's not to love?
The same area at
night takes on a glamorous air. There's always something
entertaining to do in Guanajuato. Why not go for a visit and
experience this lovely city yourself?